"I've become comfortable not communicating with other people."

stories

Evelyn Kabakov

portrait

Of herself, this young writer tells us: “I’m a writer of poetry and fiction as well as an artist. I love spending time reading and cooking. I recently started a blog called Wandering, which incorporates my art with my poems.”




Am I Sleeping?

I woke up this morning from a dream reluctant to end.  I had jumped into a vast space of water, neither an ocean nor a pool, just a blackness of water.  I was determined to swim deeper and deeper toward the bottom, but for some reason I had to reach the bottom if there was a bottom, and I was getting somewhere farther, but I ended up swimming back to the surface. After I finished writing the dream in my journal, I moved into the kitchen and prepared myself an omelet at around two in the afternoon, way past the average time to make an omelet, the afternoon with its day of empty cups anticipating the warmth of the coffee that, because of my still-grogginess, seemed to pour in slow motion.  I noticed the spoon reflecting the cup's shape, and then how the coffee tasted ever so wonderful and effective the instant I swallowed it.

A moment later the effect has happened, I’m awakened, and having the TV in the background calms me a bit.  Then the quiet that occurs when the TV isn’t on.  Yet I’m bored. I should be doing something creative and challenging. I’m such a loner. I’ve become comfortable not communicating with other people. I remembered that song from Pink Floyd, the part about being comfortably numb. Which even by bringing up doesn’t seem to inspire enough positive reinforcement. I want to get out of myself and do something useful. I’m depressed, that’s my diagnosis, and I’m calling it “DSAP," aka depressed socially anxious person. I made that up, of course. That’s so typical of everything about me, my problems and me. I’m going to add narcissistic, making it “DSANP."

A knock at the door startles her, and she stays where she is, but is anxious; keeping it inside, she starts to pick at her nails. Who the hell is that?  I’m trying to be depressed in peace. If I don’t hear another knock, could it be the mailman dropping off my package?  Counting to 10 she waits for the last knock.  She doesn’t hear the last knock, but waits a little bit longer. She makes her way to the door to look through the peephole, and looks down toward the ground to see if there’s a package. She notices something and opens the door. My package. Yes. Does anyone see me?  I look like a crazed woman roaming the halls.  She thought, I hope that cute guy doesn’t see me like this. Just do it quick.  She opens the door, and takes the package, takes one last look, and goes back inside, thankful no one saw her. She remembered those pants she ordered. Finally. Let’s see if they fit. She try’s them on.  Okay, they're doing fine, no problem, so far. Now the finale obstacle, the thighs and butt; will I be able to yank the pants over the mount?  Oh crap, they won’t go any more. You see, that’s why you should go to the store and try them on; now I have to exchange them for a bigger size. Damn it, why can’t you just go to the store and try clothes on, to see if they fit right?  Those mirrors in the dressing rooms suck; I look like a hippo trying on clothes--either my arms are too big, or my thighs are too big, and I can’t get pants on past them. It’s so annoying, so I would rather go through that in the comfort of my own room. All this thinking about trying on clothes made me hungry.

She doesn’t live with roommates just yet; living at home with the folks is driving her up the walls. The job hunt has brought discouragement and frustration that can’t seem to be helped by the amount of submissions of resumes sent with only two or three responses that possibly call for what she can do. Seeing a psychotherapist has brought her insight and has challenged her to push herself out of her comfort zone, but she doesn’t do what is asked of her. I’m just lazy and don’t want to do it. That what my dad tells me, or am I just afraid to do it because it would change me and make me a better version of myself?

There is no one waiting for elevators except me. Someone’s coming; are they heading this way?  No, thank God. Yes, the elevator's here. She makes her way in. No one else, she thought, good. I can once again become more comfortable being alone. It occurs to me that I’d rather be alone. DSAP. Waiting for the elevator to let me go home. Please let there be no one in the elevator. The doors open; there’s that cute guy coming into the elevator toward me. Look at him. Damn it, I can’t find a word to say. He’s thinking he could get any girl he wants. I’m acting like chicken shit. Who the fuck does he think he is? The elevator stops on the lobby floor, and he steps out. Damn it, another missed opportunity, she thinks to herself.  Why was I so cold to him? As she makes her way out into the lobby, she begins to fantasize about what she would like to happen. I look at him, we both smile very sweetly to each other.  Hi, I’m Beth. Hi, I’m Paul.  Suddenly I pounce on him, and we make out. She stops, realizing what she was doing was rash.  “That was strange, I know," but then Paul kisses her.  Oh, well, that was another great fantasy, but how many have there been, compared to how many times anything like that has really happened to me?  Ten to zero.  God, it drives me insane thinking that I spend time fantasizing and not living a real life.

Last night I was watching a film called “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever,” and it starred Barbra Streisand, and she played a college student who had extra sensory perception (ESP) and she was the reincarnation of a woman from the 1800’s. What was interesting was that she was embarrassed to admit she had ESP and powers that others would find strange, and I thought of myself and how I believe I also have ESP, but I’m afraid it might not be ESP.  Was it my isolation from people that made me believe that I have ESP, that claiming I have ESP excuses my isolation?  Maybe, because I have isolated myself and have become more insightful and observant than I have before; I have created a more sensitive ear and vision, so things come to me.

I also feel that even if I had ESP does that make my life more enhanced; can that give me a job, friends, relationships? I feel out of place already and don’t see myself as a whole person.  I’m a zombie for most of my life, and still can’t find my identity and therefore don’t have a purpose. What can she do with ESP; would it give her purpose, she thought. Would she become a fortuneteller or gypsy, and what good would it do for her or for others? Could she go on living this mysterious and scary life, which would bring different challenges that could further enhance her skills of perception?  Maybe her fantasies were real, but because she saw them happening to others and not herself. Or would it be better to be around people who tell me that it isn’t real, and I start to dismantle this skill so it will benefit my life.

What really pisses me off is the potential to do anything I want, and yet have no identity or purpose and live sheltered away from anything that can benefit me. I’ve repressed sexuality, creativity, and feelings. All of which, if explored, could release anxieties, but if it is dealt with correctly can enrich my life. Everything that’s meaningful and useful could enter into her life if it wasn’t always worried and frustrated with my living situation. Spending most of her time at home created a mild and controlled Cabin Fever. I’m surprised I haven’t completely snapped; maybe it's because I felt something was moving in me in the wrong direction, and I wanted to change it. Now that I am more aware of my reactions to people around me or that I can change, but changing requires more then just awareness; it still required action on my part, and that was more difficult when coming home was both a safe zone and a battle zone. Living in this environment doesn’t help to change, but regress into myself, but without knowing myself, I only increase my anxiety, and then I’m afraid to go outside and have my own life experiences, miserable in my own hell that I’ve become used to. How much of hell can someone endure?

I have moments of wanting to end my suffering, because I wasn’t going anywhere. I’m again surprised that I’m still here, still writing, thinking, eating, talking, and wondering about the world.  Hoping for a feeling, a miracle, that I will wake up one day and have discovered my purpose and not have to worry about it anymore. I’ll write a book one day from beginning to end without stopping. I’ll wake up and want to do something that day. I’ll go to sleep after working that day, either a paying job, or writing, or just creating something. Just having a purpose to live. Maybe I should take medication to boost my motivation to do something great. I’m sick of being criticized by others and by myself.  And how I think others see me as an easy target, weak, boring, and a victim, a pathetic being unable to cope. Instead I project hardness, discomfort, disregard, and carelessness with a thick lining of anxiety.

I know I know I skipped a few days, bad of me. A few things happened on April 3rd, which was a Saturday, was the day before a ski trip that was planned for the next day with my dad, my sister Sarah and her husband Greg. I wasn’t included in the beginning because I suppose my sister thought I wouldn’t go with them, yet I decided I would go, but with hesitation. Sarah was glad I was going to join her. The rest of the day was getting the ski stuff out of storage and trying on ski clothes, making sure everything fits and is in order. That night I was feeling anxious and didn’t write how I was feeling.  When I feel emotions, especially anxiety, I can’t seem to remember.  At that moment it's important to write how I was feeling.  Instead I went online to find out about snowblades, which are three-feet-in-length skis. Seeing other people on those skis made me feel less anxious about those skis. I had to get up at 8:30 Sunday morning, but only managed to fall asleep around 4 am, which left me four and a half hours of sleep. On Sunday morning, I got up at 8 am feeling groggy and not so friendly, but I got dressed and ate breakfast, which my mom and I helped to make and ate with Sarah and Greg, and I wasn’t too happy about that. I wasn’t used to making breakfast with an audience, so it made me upset and tense. I was glad once the eating and chatter was over and we could get on the road, but once I got out of the house I noticed my dad was looking under the hood to check the car before the long road trip to the ski summit.

The car had one drop of motor oil left, which was a surprise to my dad; he used a bottle and a half of motor oil. The car should have been checked the day before, and the assumption that everything was okay backfired. We then all made our way to the summit. The entire skiing event was surprising for me because of the fact that skiing was not second nature to me; it was around 19 years ago that my experience with skiing was a disaster, and I loathed skiing. I fell and was cold and wet, and after that I refused to enjoy skiing. Then, years later I wanted to learn how to ice skate and grew to love it although I did fall many times and got wet, but somehow that experience was different. I believe that ice skating allowed me to enjoy skiing, and only then did my anxiety decreased significantly. My dad was increasingly happy that I did have such ease on the skis, because the size of the skis were smaller and easier to control, so that helped a lot also. It was as if my future self was waiting for me on that mountain, and I felt reborn.

I know I once again I am writing after a long break, for no good reason other than thinking writing about my feelings is useless. Which in retrospect could be enlightening and help to bring change. I’m writing at 1:58 am exactly on Sunday morning, but Saturday was a negative surprise; my sister called and wanted to invite me to go with her and her best friend to an art expo at LACMA of Renoir's paintings. I was distressed and undeceived about the invitation. I felt like a child and not at all like an adult being invited to something I would like. I couldn’t really say what I felt, other then, “you and Claire go,” and she responded, “are you sure; did you ever see Renoir’s paintings in a museum?”  I said, “yeah I saw them," which I’m not sure was true on my part, but it was some reason not to go. Instead I went with my folks to garage sales, and I remember thinking, I went from something to do outside of my comfort zone, the weekend outing with my sister, to my comfort zone, being with my parents. Also, while driving to a house we stopped at a red light behind a Honda Civic very much similar to mine, and I mentioned to my dad as a joke: “Are you parked behind my car?” The reason I think about this now is the fact that hours later we ate lunch, and Sarah came home and ate with us, and then maybe an hour or two later, my dad decides as Sarah is leaving to talk about me in another room.

As they were talking I noticed how Sarah’s voice becomes and I get upset and yell across the room, “I don’t appreciate being talked about behind my back,” and Sarah responds,” well come to the living room to talk."  I say, "well, you could have asked me if you wanted to talk with me about me.”  The conversation was mostly Sarah talking over everyone, trying to be the mediator, at least for my dad. When I wanted to interject she went on and on, and my dad was defensive and felt insulted that I don’t help him enough, especially with the computer. Sarah left at around 8:56 pm, and my dad had to drive in my car, take my mother's friend Lila’s son to his apartment after he had knee surgery, and when he was coming back someone had bumped into the car from behind, and I instantly thought, that was a sign that the universe was telling me about the earlier situation when I made the joke about the red Honda that looked like my car from the rear. Yet, I felt it was my entire fault, that I somehow caused it. I should have sensed something about the fact that I saw my car from the back, and then hours later the back of the car was damaged. I will carry a notebook and pen from now on and write everything I respond to, whether it be seemingly unimportant to a gut response; it has to be written, or I forget and won’t be able to recognize the link later. This will be proof that I might have mild ESP; I have to build up an acceptance and continuity, if I indeed have ESP.

A strong vibration flowed through the dune, hundreds of books in perfect condition have been abandoned within the aura of mystical chants, empty pages crisp and clean-shaking in the wind. Navigating within and toward the end of this library left for thoughts to a passing shell into pages that the wind steals for itself. The books dissolve into the sand; a figure appears as a shadow, having no evidence of being human, except for its form. Just as a voice begins to escape from the shadow, a sound of a phone ringing compensates for the movement of sound. The sound in her dream awakens her to pick up the receiver. “Hello."  Groggy and restless, she tries a second time to respond to the call. “Hello, who is this?"  The phone goes dead.

A bit startled, and finding it hard to get back to sleep, she makes her way to the kitchen for a glass of water. Making her way back to bed, she notices shadows lingering from behind the door through the threshold, in the hallway, and she is thinking the neighbor across from her apartment just arrived, yet she heard no sounds, which gave her a suspicious feeling; someone was trying to break in. Quietly making her way to the door, picking up her bat, the shadow stops, and just as she’s about to look through the peephole, a piece of paper slides into her feet, and she quickly looks into the key hole, but no one is there. Although paranoid yet brave, she opens the door, but the hallway is as empty and quiet as if she were the only one in the entire building. She picks up the piece of paper, and decides not to read it, figures it might have come from a random person in the apartments, and she tosses it on the coffee table, heads back to bed, but still curious about who that might have been, maybe Paul. Overplaying everything that happened yesterday, and the dream, with the phone call, and the strange shadow, feeling fully awakened, she couldn’t go back to sleep.

It seemed so tiresome, the repetition of one’s life, the daily hustle and bustle. Could she ever be sure what the day would bring, what obstacles would occur that would test her limits, make her a potentially better version of herself? This was not what she thought about; only the comfort of the bed was her respite. This would be her daily escape.

Did her dreams and the swimming into the darkness, the dune and the shadowy images which seemed meaningless, indicate ESP, or was she going insane?  Somehow she managed to get back to the surface in that dream, but did those dreams foreshadow something exciting to come?  The moment of gaining that second of hope, that grain of sand.  The fantasies would reveal the pain deep inside of her, the anger she put on herself, for not being able to communicate honestly with herself and others, but this pain might have felt real because it was a feeling, but were they false, based on fear, which wasn’t authentic, and was it all in her head, where she knew it had always been?


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